Leonard Theodore “Ted” Olson died peacefully April 4, 2018 in State College. He was 86 years old.
He is survived by his wife, Esther Olson; three daughters, Linda Fisher (Barry) of Atlanta, Ga., Erica (Tom) Nodell of State College and Kristine (Dave) Holmes of Tullahoma, Tenn.; and six grandchildren, Emily Fisher, Taylor, Connor and Kristen Nodell and Bradley and Grace Holmes.
He was born in Chicago, Ill., to Leonard and Edna Olson. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1949-1953 and was stationed in Alaska during the Korean War. He was a member of the State College Presbyterian Church.
After attending the University of South Carolina, University of Oslo and Brooklyn College, he earned a B.E.E. at C.C.N.Y. and a M.E.E. He also completed graduate Ph.D. work at Syracuse University.
He worked for IBM for 32 years as an electrical engineer in advanced computer design. To his credit, he obtained 16 U.S. patents, 28 technical invention disclosures, numerous Publication Achievement Awards, including the “Outstanding Technical Paper” of the Year award in 1981 from the International Society for Hybrid Microelectronics. In 2003, 12 years after retiring, IBM presented him with a corporate award for an outstanding Patent.
He married Esther, his beloved wife of 61 years, in Brooklyn, N.Y. They moved to Wappingers Falls, N.Y., in 1959.
He was an active competitor in many sports, such as baseball, football, basketball, weightlifting, softball and golf. Track & Field was – without a doubt – his favorite sport.
His over 65-year track career began as a cross-county runner, hurdler and six-foot high jumper in high school. In college he added throwing events, which would later be his specialty.
His participation in Masters Track & Field led to numerous national titles, American and World records and medals in world competition.
He continued to compete until the age of 84. In 2002 he was inducted into the USA Masters Hall of Fame for Track & Field. In 2001 his book titled, “Masters Track & Field: A History,” was published.
He devoted thousands of hours to coaching and directing sports activities. In 1964 he saw a need for girls to be more involved in sports and physical fitness. He started a track team for girls at the YMCA and his first two daughters were able to participate.
He named the team the “Poughkeepsie Y-ettes.” This was the beginning of his love for coaching and promoting physical fitness.
Beginning in 1967, he was the head coach for the Marist College Track & Field team for 10 years and the Cross Country team for five years.
He coached the YMCA Track & Field and Cross Country teams, served as director of numerous indoor and outdoor track meets, officiated at numerous AAU track meets and coached local church basketball and softball teams.
In the 1960’s, he was involved with the development of physical fitness standards for children, which became part of physical education in schools and was introduced in 1966 as the Presidential Fitness Awards.
He was recognized in Washington, D.C. in 1970 with one of the top 12 national awards for his leadership and devotion to physical fitness by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
Later he served as a throwing coach at the University of Vermont for six years, followed by five years of coaching at SUNY Binghamton.
Throughout his career, he organized and conducted Track & Field meets for both open and masters athletes. He was a certified USAFT Official and chairman of the All-American Standards committee. In recent years, he officiated at Penn State track meets.
The funeral service will be at 12 p.m. Saturday, April 14 at the State College Presbyterian Church with a reception to follow. Pastor Mike Ozaki will officiate the ceremony.
Military honors will be accorded at the church. All are welcome to attend and celebrate his life. Burial will be in Volusia Memorial Park, Ormond Beach, Fla.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the American Diabetes Association or the charity of your choice.
The Bennett & Houser Funeral Home Inc. of Clearfield is in charge of the arrangements.